Truck Topics is a new series of articles seen periodically in Autobody News that is dedicated to the collision side of the heavy duty truck market.
We see them all the time---semi trucks, trailers, buses, RVs, dump trucks and other pieces of heavy equipment wrecked in what had to be a horrendous crash.
So where does this heavy equipment go for collision repair---and how different is it from repairing an auto or pick-up truck?
As one would imagine, there are some vast differences given the sheer size, weight, substrates used, and construction methods of such vehicles. But there are a few things that don’t change regardless of what vehicle is being repaired or who is doing it.
For example, the phrase, “This is the way we’ve been doing it for 30 years… so why change?” is something heard in both camps and something industry leaders on both sides are trying to fight through education and awareness.
One of the biggest differences between Class 8 and 9 trucks (commonly known as semi tractors) is the availability of repair information for both mechanical and especially collision repair. In the auto or light truck world, (thanks to the Right to Repair initiative started in 2001), one trip to an automaker’s website will give repairers pretty much everything they need to make a safe and proper repair.
On the truck side, that information may or may not exist, and even if it does exist, it is difficult to find. The truck OE will likely refer the independent shop to the component manufacturer---who may or may not be able to provide the information. Most trucks are custom-built to a customer’s specifications, making component identification (such as axles, wheels, suspension parts) challenging.
John “Jack” Legler is the technical director for the Technical and Maintenance Council (TMC) of the American Trucking Association (ATA). Its mission is to develop best practices and maintenance procedures for Class 8 (semi) trucks. The 65-year-old association has always been busy, but is now even more so as it tackles the proper way to make collision repairs with the advent of new advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) and other new technologies---such as high-strength steel.